Sententia ex Suetonii "Vita Divi Claudii"

By gerases, in 'Latin Grammar Questions', Jul 10, 2012.

  1. gerases Member

    The meaning is clear, but any idea why "nuncupo" is in the subjunctive here? Unless there's some hint of a purpose clause, which is tough for me to incorporate here.
  2. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    The passage seems problematical from et onward. It's clear that quid...constituerit is a pretty straightforward indirect question dependent on dubium est, but reliquerit and nuncuparet, despite being joined to constituerit with a conjunction, can't also be indirect questions (which begs the question of why either of them is subjunctive). Moreover, reliquerit (perfect subj.) and nuncuparet (imperfect subj.) have a sequence of tenses clash.

    Apparently some manuscripts have cum or ut in place of et, either of which would solve the subjunctive problem but not the sequence of tenses problem. This suggests that scribes had just as much trouble parsing the line as we are having. However, the only way I can think to completely emend the line would be to assume that the same error which has crept up in et has affected the following verb as well. A corruption of ut relinqueret to et reliquerit requires only the change of three letters in close succession, so perhaps it's not too unlikely*. This would make both verbs part of a final clause subordinate to constituerit (a normal construction after this verb) and in secondary sequence as demanded by the past tense of constituerit.

    Nec dubium est, quid post haec Augustus constituerit, ut relinqueret eum nullo praeter auguralis sacerdotii honore impertitum ac ne heredem quidem nisi inter tertios ac paene extraneos e parte sexta nuncuparet, legato quoque non amplius quam octingentorum sestertiorum prosecutus.

    "Nor is there any doubt what Augustus decided after this, namely to leave him invested with no office beyond that of augural priest, and then not even to name him as heir except to a sixth part of the estate, as one among those of the third degree of kinship who are almost strangers, and this after having also bequeathed him a legacy of not greater than eight hundred thousand sesterces."

    *It is further possible that somewhere along the line a scribe, upon misreading a smudged ut as et, decided to "correct" the presumably original relinqueret to reliquerit in order to make it match the tense and sequence of constituerit, but failed to do the same with nuncuparet after losing the ball, so to speak.
  3. gerases Member

    Fascinating. It wasn't adding up in my head at all and I couldn't have even assumed that someone had not corrected an error or the possibility of an error.

    <snipped. (Please, review our rules and guidelines.)>

    My vis-a-vis in that discussion sees no problem with the sentence and thinks that "nuncuparet" is a contrary to the fact statement, which as we know are not subject to the sequence of tenses. And so is translated as "he wouldn't have named him an heir unless in the third degree, etc.". But I can't quite accept that explanation, don't know why.

    Your explanation makes a lot of sense and your version flows so much better. The original version didn't make sense at all. Besides "cum" instead of ''et'' (which I get), some editions apparently had "ne" before "parte sexta" which completely short-circuited my brain.

    Thanks for your thoughtful analysis.
  4. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    Apparently someone doesn't want me to see this discussion. After reading the entire "Rules and Guidelines" thread I still can't divine which rule or guideline it could have possibly broken. Were you discussing Latin on a commercial site?

    That's a rather ingenious solution to our sequence of tenses quandary, but unfortunately I don't think it washes. It should really be pluperfect subjunctive (for past time) in that case, rather than imperfect subjunctive (present time). It's true that imperf. subj. sometimes makes a past time contrary-to-fact statement, but AFAIK only when there is repeated action involved or a state which would still be true in the present (though logically it must have preceded as well). The naming of an heir is a one time thing, I should think.

    It's also not really a situation that calls for a contrary-to-fact conditional anyway; it seems more logical that nisi is simply marking an exception to the negative ne...quidem, not functioning as the protasis of a proper conditional. It just seems a weird kind of condition, and one that doesn't fit the context very well: He would not even have named him as heir had he not named him as heir in the third degree? That seems tautological, and besides, the clear implication is that he named him as heir in the third degree in lieu of naming him as the expected principal heir, which to my mind completely vitiates the contrary-to-fact hypothesis. I just can't see any way to make a contrary-to-fact interpretation work.

    But more importantly, this doesn't even address the larger question of how either reliquerit or nuncuparet is connected with the rest of the sentence. Are they part of an indirect question like constituerit is? If so, how could they possibly be translated as such? If not, what is reliquerit even doing?

    Ne in place of e appears to be the product of a scribe's confusion over the tense of nuncuparet, i.e. a ham-handed attempt to justify the imperfect subjunctive by making it part of a final clause. It makes little sense, however, and heredem e parte [ordinal] nuncupare is an established idiom used elsewhere by Suetonius, so dropping the preposition and leaving parte sexta stranded seems a poor solution.

    I'm more and more convinced that ut was the original reading, and that when ut was misread as et a scribe fudged relinqueret to reliquerit to make it match sequence with constituerit. The notes in this student edition make the same point I made earlier, that without ut the following verbs are left without any clear connection to the rest of the sentence. Interestingly, in the notes they have nuncuparit (syncopated form of nuncupaverit), so that it matches sequence with reliquerit, but in the text itself leave it as nuncuparet. This might seem a good solution, as it requires the change of but a single 'e' to 'i', but perfect subjunctive in a jussive noun clause violates the sequence of tenses. I think this would only work if it were a consecutive clause dependent on nec dubium est, but that isn't attested as a valid construction after verbs of doubting.
  5. gerases Member

    Thanks, Imber, one more time. Awesome info! I couldn't quite figure out why the contrary to the fact idea didn't make sense to me. I do now.

    I know what rule was broken. I posted a link :(

    Let's try to circumvent that guideline a little :) The website is textkit punctum com. You then go to "Forum", then to "Learning Latin" and then you will see the thread near the top (with the same title).
  6. Cinefactus Censor

    • Censor
    litore aureo
    Not having had anything to do with the above I would point out:
    a) The mods don't set the rules, they merely enforce them.
    b) These are not implemented in code, but manually. Amazingly we can still read the above link.
    c) If you believe the rules should change, I would suggest bringing it up in an appropriate forum, rather than attempting to subvert them.
    Nikolaos likes this.
  7. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    a) Never thought otherwise.
    b) I didn't make a link. I typed the URL with spaces between it precisely in order to avoid making a link.
    c) Already have.
  8. gerases Member

    Can you point me somewhere to read more about it?
  9. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    Not sure exactly what you're asking for. Any decent dictionary should explain that ut may be used after constituo, if that's what you're after.
  10. gerases Member

    Yep, I thought "constituo" belonged to some special group of verbs that regularly take "ut". Nevermind, got it.
  11. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    By "normal" I didn't mean "regular", but rather "not unusual/unknown".

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